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Archive of posts filed under the Political Science category.

2 reasons why the CDC and WHO were getting things wrong: (1) It takes so much more evidence to correct a mistaken claim than to establish it in the first place; (2) The implicit goal of much of the public health apparatus is to serve the health care delivery system.

Peter Dorman points to an op-ed by Zeynep Tufekci and writes: This is a high profile piece in the NY Times on why the CDC and WHO have been so resistant to the evidence for aerosol transmission. What makes it relevant is the discussion of two interacting methodological tics, the minimization of Type I error […]

Raymond Smullyan on Ted Cruz, Al Sharpton, and those scary congressmembers

Palko shares this fun logic puzzle from the great Raymond Smullyan which also has obvious implications for modern politics: Inspector Craig of Scotland Yard was called to Transylvania to solve some cases of vampirism. Arriving there, he found the country inhabited both by vampires and humans. Vampires always lie and humans always tell the truth. […]

Postmodernism for zillionaires

“Postmodernism” in academia is the approach of saying nonsense using a bunch of technical-sounding jargon. At least, I think that’s what postmodernism is . . . Hmm, let’s check wikipedia: Postmodernism is a broad movement that developed in the mid- to late 20th century across philosophy, the arts, architecture, and criticism, marking a departure from […]

Whassup with the weird state borders on this vaccine hesitancy map?

Luke Vrotsos writes: I thought you might find this interesting because it relates to questionable statistics getting a lot of media coverage. HHS has a set of county-level vaccine hesitancy estimates that I saw in the NYT this morning in this front-page article. It’s also been covered in the LA Times and lots of local […]

When can a predictive model improve by anticipating behavioral reactions to its predictions?

This is Jessica. Most of my research involves data interfaces in some way or another, and recently I’ve felt pulled toward asking more theoretical questions about what effects interfaces can or should have in different settings. For instance, the title of the post is one question I’ve started thinking about: In situations where a statistical […]

“Off white: A preliminary taxonomy”

Lots has been written on this topic (“How the Irish Became White,” etc.), but this post by Paul Campos is an amusing starting point. As he points out, we often think about race/ethnicity/nationality in the context of U.S. politics, but it’s an issue, one way or another, pretty much everywhere in the world.

Is it really true that “the U.S. death rate in 2020 was the highest above normal since the early 1900s—even surpassing the calamity of the 1918 flu pandemic”?

tl;dr. No, it’s not true. The death rate increased by 15% from 2019 to 2020, but it jumped by 40% from 1917 to 1918. But, if so, why would anyone claim differently? Therein lies a tale. A commenter pointed to a news article with the above graphs and the following claim: The U.S. death rate […]

Can you trust international surveys? A follow-up:

Michael Robbins writes: A few years ago you covered a significant controversy in the survey methods literature about data fabrication in international survey research. Noble Kuriakose and I put out a proposed test for data quality. At the time there were many questions raised about the validity of this test. As such, I thought you […]

One reason why that estimated effect of Fox News could’ve been so implausibly high.

Ethan Kaplan writes: I just happened upon a post of yours on the potential impact of Fox News on the 2016 election [“No, I don’t buy that claim that Fox news is shifting the vote by 6 percentage points“]. I am one of the authors of the first Fox News study from 2007 (DellaVigna and […]

Questions about our old analysis of police stops

I received this anonymous email: I read your seminal work on racial bias in stops with Professors Fagan and Kiss and just had a few questions. 1. Your paper analyzed stops at the precinct level. A critique I have heard regarding aggregating data at that level is that: “To say that the threshold test can […]

A fill-in-the-blanks contest: Attributing the persistence of the $7.25 minimum wage to “the median voter theorem” is as silly as _______________________

My best shots are “attributing Napoleon’s loss at Waterloo to the second law of thermodynamics” or “attributing Michael Jordan’s 6 rings to the infield fly rule.” But these aren’t right at all. I know youall can do better. Background here. For some relevant data, see here, here, here, and here. P.S. I get it that […]

In making minimal corrections and not acknowledging that he made these errors, Rajan is dealing with the symptoms but not the underlying problem, which is that he’s processing recent history via conventional wisdom.

Raghuram Rajan is an academic and policy star, University of Chicago professor, former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund, and former chief economic advisor to the government of India, and featured many times in NPR and other prestige media. He also appears to be in the habit of telling purportedly data-backed stories that aren’t […]

State-level predictors in MRP and Bayesian prior

Something came up in comments today that I’d like to follow up on. In our earlier post, I brought up an example: If you’re modeling attitudes about gun control, think hard about what state-level predictors to include. My colleagues and I thought about this a bunch of years ago when doing MRP for gun-control attitudes. […]

Some issues when using MRP to model attitudes on a gun control attitude question on a 1–4 scale

Elliott Morris writes: – I want to run a MRP model predicting 4 categories of response options to a question about gun control (multinomial logit) – I want to control for demographics in the standard hierarchical way (MRP) – I want the coefficients to evolve in a random walk over time, as I have data […]

Understanding the value of bloc voting, using the Congressional Progressive Caucus as an example:

Daniel Stock writes: I’m a public policy PhD student, interested in economic policy and a bit of political science. I recently saw that the Congressional Progressive Caucus instituted bloc voting rules a few months ago: if at least two thirds of them agree on a bill or amendment, then all CPC members are bound to […]

This one’s for all the Veronica Geng fans out there . . .

I recently read Joseph Lanza’s excellent book from 1994, “Elevator Music: A Surreal History of Musak, Easy-Listening, and Other Moodsong.” I’ll have more to say about this book in a future post, but for now I just had to share this bit I noticed on page 53: Lyndon Baines Johnson owned Muzak franchises in Austin […]

“America Has a Ruling Class”

I agree with these points made by Samuel Goldman: America’s most powerful people have a problem. They can’t admit that they’re powerful. Take Andrew Cuomo. On a recent call with reporters, the embattled Mr. Cuomo insisted that he was “not part of the political club.” The assertion was confounding because Mr. Cuomo is in his […]

Call for a moratorium on the use of the term “prisoner’s dilemma”

Palko writes: I’m not sure what the best way to get the ball rolling here would be (perhaps a kickstarter?) but we need to have a strictly enforced rule that no journalist or pundit is allowed to mention the prisoner’s dilemma for the next five or ten years, however long it takes to learn to […]

Question on multilevel modeling reminds me that we need a good modeling workflow (building up your model by including varying intercepts, slopes, etc.) and a good computing workflow

Someone who wishes to remain anonymous writes: Lacking proper experience with multilevel modeling, I have a question regarding a nation-wide project on hospital mortality that I’ve recently come into contact with. The primary aim of the project is to benchmark hospital performances in terms of mortality (binary outcome) while controlling for “case mix”, that is, […]

“Death and Lockdowns”

Flavio Bartmann points to this post by John Tierney criticizing lockdown policies for coronavirus, which begins: Now that the 2020 figures have been properly tallied, there’s still no convincing evidence that strict lockdowns reduced the death toll from Covid-19. But one effect is clear: more deaths from other causes, especially among the young and middle-aged, […]

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